MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

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MY colleague Ken Clarke was this week named “oldie” of the year, sparking great amusement in and around Westminster.

But this week I have a personal nomination of my own – the group of A-level politics students I went to visit at Lytham St Annes High School last week – are my youngsters of the year so far.

As part of a question and answer session on the workings on Government they showed a detailed knowledge and great enthusiasm for the subject, asking about everything from the mysterious workings of the whips office to Scottish independence.

They were a great credit to their teachers and the school headmaster, Philip Wood, and certainly dispelled the myth that young people aren’t interested in politics.

In fact, their spirited campaign regarding 20mph speed limits outside the school, has led me to table a number of parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State for Transport, which will hopefully provide them with a positive response.

The session was part of a busy week which included meetings at County Hall with senior executives to discuss progress with the vital Enterprise Zone at BAE Warton and the work of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, a constituency surgery and a number of helpful briefings on defence and energy issues.

I have also continued my work on boosting retail following on from Mary Portas’ review into breathing life into the nation’s high streets.

Even before full details of the Portas review came to light, people from Kirkham Chamber of Trade contacted me to ask how they could become involved.  A successful bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government would allow the town to be one of the places selected to pilot some of the initiatives put forward by the review.

I have since been keen to hear from other Chambers of Trade who are interested in this great opportunity.

And finally, following a meeting with the PCS union which represents the thousands of DWP workers across the area, I am pressing the Government to urge them to consider locating the work created by the introduction of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment on the Fylde coast.

I believe we have a tremendously skilled civil service workforce here on the Fylde coast who could really help to implement some of the Government’s important welfare reforms and I will do everything I can to make sure they get the chance.

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